Monday, October 31, 2011

Song of the Week: Garfield's Halloween

For this week's song of the week, we turn to the Garfield Halloween Special. When I was a kid, CBS would always show this and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" back to back every year.

Here are two songs from the Garfield special:  "What Should I Be?"

And "Scaredy Cat":

Friday, October 28, 2011

MST3K Friday: Lost Continent

"He's playing Pong Solitare."
"Let's form a soccer team and eat each other."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Song of the Week: Mourning

Just like the other week, here's a song from a band that was featured way back in the early days of Song of the Week.  Here's another song from Tantic's first album:  "Mourning".  It just randomly popped in my head last Wednesday, even though I haven't listened to the band in months.

Friday, October 21, 2011

MST3K Friday: Angels Revenge

This is one episode I still haven't seen.

"Sound by Hanna Barbera."
 "Don't watch the jiggling, honey."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Last Four Books I Bought and Why

I always like doing these, even if I haven't posted one in a while.  The "why" this time around is very simple:  Borders was going out of business.  My to-be-read pile exploded earlier this year, so there was no real reason for me to buy more books.  However, the deals Borders had were unbelievable - which you'll see in some of these.

Moonlight Mile by, Dennis Lehane.  I read Lehane for the first time last year and was hooked.  I haven't caught up to this work yet, but Borders had the $27 hardcover on sale for $10.  Can't pass that up.

Savages, by Don Winslow.  Like with Lehane's A Drink Before the War, Winslow's The Dawn Patrol hooked me on a new author.  Your reaction to the first sentence of this book will immediately tell you if the book is for you or not.

When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, by Lawrence Block.  Block is a writer I've been meaning to read for a while.  Everyone speaks highly of his Matthew Scudder series and this book in particular.  I read a couple of his shorts earlier this year and made plans to check this book out of my local library.  When I saw this available for $3.20, I figured it's just as easy to pick up a cheap copy.

Once Were Cops, by Ken Bruen.  Bruen is another writer I've been meaning to read.  Again, $16 book for $6 is an easy buy.

I picked up a couple more books, but these were the heavy hitters.  All told, I bought eight more books (including a couple hardcovers) at two different Borders locations and spent under $60.  I'm sad to see Borders go, but I certainly took advantage of their liquidation sales.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Song of the Week: Straight Up and Down

The Brian Jonestown Massacre is a very eclectic band. You can probably guess that from their very cheeky name (a portmanteau of the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones and the infamous Jonestown Massacre incident). Their music can be described as psychedelia, electronica, folk music, blues, experimental music, and with a heavy influence from 1960's garage rock. This song, "Straight Up and Down", is from their 1996 album Take It from the Man!.  I'd wager that it is probably their most well known song as it is used by a critically acclaimed HBO television show.

Friday, October 14, 2011

MST3K Friday: Red Zone Cuba

I always felt that Red Zone Cuba was one of the worst movies ever shown on MST3K. Movies like Manos: The Hands of Mate and The Creeping Terror were terrible, but at least you could make fun of them. Cuba was just long, boring and nothing happened.

"The red zone is for Cuba and un-Cuba only."
"You shove off!"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stop Me If You've Heard This One...

Okay, so this Polish guy walks into a brothel and finds his wife working as a call girl. According to the Reuters news agency, that actually happened recently, and Poland’s gag writers must be on strike too, because the shocked husband could come up with no better punch line than, “What are you doing here?” It is unclear whether the prurient Pole employed his wife in her professional capacity, but if so he is a true supply-sider, since every capitalist knows that paid employees work harder than volunteers. In a romantic comedy the couple would reconcile, but in real life, sad to say, they are divorcing. We leave it to Oprah and Dr. Phil to determine which is the aggrieved party.

Posted on the old blog 2/04/2008.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Idiot of the Day

Thirty-three year old Raymond Oprey of Palisades, New York, is a New York City firefighter who helped out at Ground Zero on September 11th.  Last Thursday, he off-duty and was out drinking in Rockleigh, New Jersey when he heard an emergency call on his radio.  There was a strip mall fire in nearby Closter, NJ, about 3 miles west of where he was.  So Raymond sprang into action and went to the nearby Rockleigh Fire Department, jumped in one of their trucks, and took it.  Then he drove, drunk, the three miles to Closter, radioing the firemen on the scene, “I’m on the way and I have the aqua!”  When he got there, he wanted to help out, but the police were suspicious and arrested him.  He’s been charged with DWI, plus burglary and unlawful stealing of a fire truck.  Raymond Oprey could end up with 5 years in jail and $15,000 in fines.

Posted on the old blog 9/30/2006.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Song of the Week: Fire Escape

I had another song planned for this week, but this tune popped in my head just before dinner last night. As I said at the start of this feature, Song of the Week is going to be sort of a window to my mind. Why was this song here? I don't know.

I talked about the band Fastball way back in the second installment of Song of the Week. "Fire Escape" is the second single off their 1999 album All the Pain Money Can Buy. There's kind of a disconnect between the song's lyrics and the video, so listen once for the lyrics and once to watch the video. One technical aspect about the video I liked is that the entire 4 minutes seems to be one long take.


Friday, October 7, 2011

MST3K Friday: Tom Servo vs Blender

Another quick one this week. In this host segment, Tom Servo hits on a blender.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Clemente by, David Maraniss

Baseball players are quite often defined by their stats and their achievements.  From this angle, Roberto Clemente lines up as one of the greatest all time.  Clemente finished his career with a .317 batting average, exactly 3000 hits, 240 home runs, and 1305 RBI.  During his 18-year career, he was a 15 time all-star, won the World Series twice, was the regular season MVP in 1966, World Series MVP in 1971, and was a Gold Glover for twelve straight seasons from 1961-1972.  Clemente recorded at least one hit in all 14 World Series games he played.

Outside of sheer numbers, Clemente exemplified what everyone holds dear about the sport of baseball.  He was able to track down balls in right field that nobody else could.  He could throw out runners at third from the deepest part of the park - without bouncing the ball.  He wasn't the most graceful or fastest runner, but those who saw him on the basepaths said that he ran like he was being chased by someone or something.

As a human being, Clemente is remembered as someone special, too.  He was beloved by fans; quick to make friends.  He had a strong sense of pride and felt that "any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, then you are wasting your time on Earth."  Nothing shows this better than his untimely death at age 38 in a plane crash while delivering supplies to victims of the 1972 Nicaraguan earthquake.

But, like most men (and especially athletes), Clemente was no saint.  His interactions with the sportswriters of his day were touchy at best.  He thought they didn't respect him.  They would often write his quotes in phonetic English, attempting to paint him as stupid.  He was quick to anger at those he felt slighted him.

David Maraniss's book Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero , chronicles Clemente's life, showing that Clemente was a great man, but doesn't gloss over his faults.  Maraniss talks about Clemente's early life in Puerto Rico, his struggles against Jim Crow during spring training, and how his pride and anger drove him to greater and greater heights.

Maraniss certainly did quite a bit of research.  There are extensive quotes from Clemente's friends, family, former teammates, and former managers.  The chapters on the World Series games (1960 and 1971) are some of the best in the book.  Like Clemente, the book isn't without its flaws.  In just about every chapter, there's mention of Clemente's prickly relationship with the press and the casual racism he faced not only as a Latin player, but as a black Latin player.  Sometimes, Maraniss drops you right in and mentions Clemente's teammates without giving them a proper introduction (even as a Pirates fan, I'm not that familiar with the teams of the 1950's and 1960's, so it took me a second or two to place the players).

There are eerie moments in the book where it appears that Clemente (and some others around him) had premonitions of his death in a plane crash.  Roberto himself mentioned on several occasions that he felt he was going to die young.  These add to the sense that he led a charmed life.

I'd recommend this book to baseball fans everywhere.  I've heard some rumors that Hollywood is planning a movie about Clemente's life. I'd certainly go see it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Song of the Week: Autumn in Washington Square

The morning air is crisp now, and soon leaves will crunch under your feet as you take your morning walk. They burst into vibrant colors; making the trees aflame with their bright reds, yellows, and oranges. It's as if nature is showing us how beautiful it is in order to stave off the bleak, barren months of winter. It is fall.

This week's song is "Autumn in Washington Square" from Dave Brubeck's Jazz Impressions of New York. I think it captures both the beauty and melancholy of the season quite well. There are passages where I can almost see a handful of dry, orange leaves blown across a paved walkway by the cool October breeze.